North Platte (Class of 1944)
“Bullet” Jack McCartney blended speed, drive and a change of pace that made him one of the most dangerous football players of his time. Tagged as Nebraska’s best high school athlete in his sophomore year, McCartney made a name for himself in track, winning all-class gold medals in the 100- and 220-yard dashes as well as the broad jump during his junior season. An injury prevented him from defending his titles his senior year. All-state in football and a three-year basketball letterman, McCartney served in the Navy before playing football at Northwestern University. After suffering a fractured pelvis, he transferred to the University of Nebraska to complete his college education.
A devotion to the sport of basketball and a pursuit of excellence helped Duane Mendlik put together a career of more than 650 victories ╨ second-highest in Nebraska boys basketball history. A 35-year stint at West Point Central Catholic and a decade at Wisner-Pilger resulted in 15 state-tournament appearances. He coached West Point Central Catholic to back-to-back state championships in 1998 and 1999 and a runner-up finish in 2003. He also has coached football and boys golf.
Few can match the diverse success enjoyed by John Miller. A 36-year coaching career garnered seven state championships and more than 700 victories in girls’ and boys’ basketball and football. His longest tenure came as the Chambers girls’ basketball coach where his teams won five state championships, four runner-up trophies and 585 games. The Coyotes put together an 87-game win streak. After 30 years coaching girls at Chambers, he moved to boys’ basketball, first at Chambers/Wheeler Central then Southern Valley. In six years at Southern Valley, his teams notched 124 wins and captured Class C2 state championship in 2014. Miller also coached the Chambers football team for 13 years, winning 77 games and the 2007 state title.
At Centura High School, Kathy Mettenbrink was simply known as “Coach.” Her 34-year career as the Centurions girls basketball coach resulted in 549 wins, 11 state tournament appearances and two runner-up finishes. But her biggest accomplishments can’t be quantified by numbers. “She turned a lot of average players into great ones,” one of her players said. Despite its small size, Centura saw more than its share of girls become college basketball players. Mettenbrink put her all into coaching. Starting in elementary school, where she taught physical education, Mettenbrink challenged her girls physically and mentally, teaching integrity, hard work, respect, perseverance and teamwork.
Superior (Class of 1980)
When Rick Meyer spins around, the discus usually sails a long way. By the time he was named the Hastings Tribune’s Prep Athlete of the Year in 1980, Meyer had already embarked on a record-setting career. The first Nebraska prepster to eclipse the 190-foot mark, Meyer won the all-class gold medal as a junior and the Class B gold medal as a senior. Also all-area in football and basketball, Meyer accepted a track scholarship to the University of Houston where he was a three-time Southwest Conference champion, a five-time All-American (twice in the shot put) and the NCAA champion in 1985 and runner-up in 1983. His senior year he set the NCAA meet record of 209-10. Ranked in the top 10 in the U.S. for nine years, Meyer placed fifth in the Goodwill Games in Moscow in 1986 and was an alternate for the Olympics in 1992. His younger brother, Andy, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009.
Wayne (Class of 1963)
Don Meyer made his mark nationally as a successful and legendary college basketball coach, setting a record with 923 wins at Hamline (MN) University, Lipscomb (TN) University and Northern State (SD), but his playing accomplishments can’t be overlooked. The only player at Wayne High School to have his jersey retired, Meyer averaged 20 points per game as a junior and 26.5 points per game as a senior for teams that were a combined 32-5. He also starred as a pitcher on Wayne’s first high school team and its American Legion team. At the University of Northern Colorado, Meyer was a four-year starter in basketball, leading the Bears in scoring his junior and senior seasons. He also went 22-2 as a pitcher on the UNC baseball team that nearly qualified for the College World Series. He has been inducted into Wayne High School, Northern Colorado and the NAIA Halls of Fame, and is the subject of the movie, My Many Sons.
Sidney (Class of 1952)
Jon McWilliams was noted for his speed. Labeled “Greased Lighting” after a three-touchdown performance against Oshkosh, the Sidney senior sprinted to Class B all-state honors in football and the 120-yard high hurdles silver medal at the state track meet, helping his team win the state title. McWilliams, who lettered all four years in high school in all three sports, was also a mainstay on the basketball team. Selected as Western Nebraska’s Football MVP by the Scottsbluff Star-Herald, McWilliams went on to earn All-Big Seven honors at Nebraska after being switched to end. One of the first black players of the modern era, McWilliams was a three-year letterman in football and ran track for the Huskers. He played one year for the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the Canadian Football League.
Athlete. Mention the name Bill Mountford of Red Cloud to anyone active as a high school track & field athlete in Nebraska after World War II and before the Korean War and the retort would be: “Ah, yes – the great race.” Perhaps the most famous high school race ever run over the red cinders of Memorial Stadium in Lincoln took place on May 17, 1947, between Red Cloud Class C High School senior William E. Mountford and the defending gold medal winner, Marvin Zimmerman of Class A Nebraska City High School. Mountford lost the first race he ran in high school and none thereafter, dominating the mile run in Class C for three years. The boys on the track team at Red Cloud had to agree to compete in Class A in 1947 year so Bill could compete with Marvin at the state track meet. After dueling stride for stride for four quarters, Mountford held off the Zimmerman challenge by an eyelash in the then record mile time of 4.26.2. Generation after generation of runners recognized this effort as one of the most significant accomplishments in high school sports. The record stood for 17 years and it is a tribute to the sportsmanship of both runners that the race could take place at all. Forever it will bear the name given by the late Gregg McBride of the Omaha World-Herald: “The Magic Mile”.
A three sport letterman, McPhauls signature sport was track. Twice named the Gatorade Nebraska Track Athlete of the Year, McPhaull was a seven-time gold medalist for Omaha North at the state track championship and set the state record in the 400.
One of the greatest individual competitors ever for the University of South Dakota mens track and field team, he was a 13-time conference champion, a 10-time All-American, the NCAA Division II track Athlete of the Year in 1996 and the national indoor runner-up in the 400 in 1997. He competed professionally for two years before coaching high school and AAU track in Nebraska.
Athlete. Bob was not only a three-sport star for the Scouts, he actually lettered in four sports. He earned a total of 14 varsity letters by sandwiching golf in with football, basketball and track. His honors in high school included being named to the Central Ten All-Conference first teams three consecutive years in football and basketball from 1970 to 1972. He was selected to the Class C all-state football first teams in 1971 and 1972 and the all-class all-state team in 1972. He was awarded Class C all-state first-team honors in ’71 and ’72. The David City Scouts also garnered some team honors during Bob’s junior and senior years, earning state championships in football and basketball plus the all-sports title in ’72. He was a silver medallist in the triple jump at the state track meet twice in his career. Capping off his high school career he was selected by the Lincoln Journal-Star and the Omaha World-Herald as 1972 High School Athlete of the Year. Playing in the Shrine Bowl was a fitting climax to his high school career. Going to college at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, he lettered and started three years as a defensive end, earning All-Big 8 honors in 1975 and ’76. He was chosen All-American in ’76 and received the highest honor from his teammates by being selected co-captain. Bob went on to play professional football for five years, first with the New York Jets and then the San Francisco 49ers. He now works as Product Development Manager for Valmont Industries. (2003)